John Jacob Astor and Waldorf Astor MP Passengers on the Titanic and Olympic


Stuart Kelly

Hi there,

I saw from the Times of 21 September 1911 that one of the Olympic's passengers at the time of the collision with HMS Hawke in the Solent was a Mr Waldorf Astor, then a Conservative member of the House of Commons. I wonder if he is any relation to John Jacob Astor who, as we all know, went down with the Olympic's sister ship? With a name like Waldorf, I recokon it cannot be mere co-incidence.

The Times report also, prophetically, says that the Olympic is insured for a million pounds and that her watertight compartments don't make her immune from loss. It remarks that the effect of the sinking of the Republic in 1909 to London's insurance markets would be:

"a fleabite as compared with what would have happened had the Olympic seriously come to grief in the Atlantic"

One wonders if someone somewhere had a crystal ball?


Randy Bryan Bigham


Phil G & others will know better re: specifics but, yes, Waldorf Astor MP would have been related to John Jacob Astor IV. I forget now why that branch was in England. Waldorf was eventually made a Lord for some political reason I am unaware of but then died and his American wife Nancy, nee Langhorne, of the well-known Southern family, ran for his seat, causing a stir, but she won in the end, making history as the first woman elected to Parliament in the UK.


Mike Herbold

The original John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) married Sarah Todd and they had 8 children:
Magdalen (1788-1832),
Sarah (1790, died),
John Jacob Astor II (1791-1869),
William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875),
Dorothea (1795-1853),
Henry Astor (1797-1799),
Eliza 1801-1838),
and an unnamed son (1802, died).

Fourth child and second son William Backhouse Astor was the grandfather of John Jacob Astor IV, who died on the Titanic, and William Waldorf Astor, who founded the British line of Astors and was the father of the the member of Parliament Waldolf Astor.

Here are the 7 children of William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875) and his wife Margaret Rebecca Armstrong:
Emily (1819-1841),
John Jacob Astor III (1822-1890),
Laura (1824-1902), who married Franklin H. Delano, and became the aunt of Sarah Delano, the mother of FDR,
Mary Alida (1826-1881),
William Backhouse Astor, Jr (1830-1892),
Henry Astor (1830-1918),
and Sarah (1832, died).

Their oldest son John Jacob Astor III married Charlotte Augusta Gibbes and they had one son, William Waldorf Astor (First Viscount).

JJA III's brother William Backhouse Astor, Jr. married Caroline Webster Schermerhorn and they had five children:
Emily (1854-1881),
Helen Schermerhorn (1855-1893),
Charlotte Augusta (1858-1920),
Caroline Schermerhorn (1861-1948),
and John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) who died on Titanic.

William Waldorf Astor (First Viscount), cousin of JJA IV, married Mary Dahlgreen Paul and they had five children:
Waldorf Astor (Second Viscount) (1879-1952),
Pauline (1880-1972),
John Rudolph Astor (1881, died),
John Jacob Astor V (Baron Astor of Hever) (1886-1971),
and Gwendolyn Enid (1889-1902).

It was William Waldorf Astor who established the English line of Astors. After a bitter argument with his cousin Caroline (JJA IV's older sister), William moved his family to England in 1891. He became an English citizen in 1899.

Son Waldorf Astor (Second Viscount), the nephew of JJA IV, was Oxford educated. He married the beautiful Nancy Langhorne in 1906. He became a member of the House of Commons from Plymouth in 1910 and in 1916 he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lloyd George. His political career soon stalled, however.

In 1919 his wife Nancy ran for the Parliamnent from Plymouth and became the first woman in the House of Commons.

The Astor line is often confusing. Note that JJA II had no children, while his brother William Backhouse Astor was the father of JJA III. JJA III's son was William Waldorf Astor, while his brother William Backhouse Astor Jr's son was JJA IV. William Waldorf Astor had a son JJA V (younger brother of Waldorf), while the son born posthumously to JJA IV was named JJA VI.

Later, Waldorf Astor (Second Viscount) would have a son named JJA VII, but none of his younger brother JJA VI's three sons would carry the JJA name. Instead, the grandson of JJA V would become JJA VIII.